SEOUL--Seoul is set to seal a defense intelligence-sharing pact with Tokyo, long stalled over history issues, to deal with the growing threat posed by North Korea and its repeated nuclear and missile tests.

South Korean officials believe an early conclusion of the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) is necessary to counter Pyongyang’s provocations, according to government sources here.

Seoul has already conveyed to the United States its intention to finalize the GSOMIA with Japan by the end of this year, the sources said.

A Japanese government official hailed the South Korean government’s decision on Oct. 27.

Signing the GSOMIA is expected to strengthen cooperation among Japan, the United States and South Korea over security in East Asia.

It would also allow Tokyo and Seoul to have more say on security cooperation with Washington by exchanging defense information directly and confirming intelligence provided by U.S. forces, the sources said.

Under the current setup, the United States leads efforts to share sensitive information among the three countries.

Japan has signed the GSOMIA with the United States, France, Australia and other countries, while South Korea has made the arrangement with the United States, Britain, Russia and other countries.

Signatories of the pact are prohibited from giving intelligence to a third-party country without prior approval or for purposes not covered by the pact.

South Korea put on ice the conclusion of the GSOMIA with Japan at the last minute in June 2012 because of a row over the issue of historical recognition of their shared past.

But momentum to seal the deal has grown since Japan and South Korea reached a landmark agreement in December to resolve the longstanding issue of “comfort women,” who were forced to provide sex to Japanese troops before and during World War II.

South Korean President Park Geun-hye agreed to set up a foundation for the surviving women, using funds provided by the Japanese government.

In addition, Pyongyang has conducted two nuclear tests and fired more than 20 ballistic missiles this year.

South Korean Defense Minister Han Min-koo said on Oct. 14 that “the need has heightened” for the GSOMIA between Tokyo and Seoul because of North Korea’s nuclear tests and missile launches.

The South Korean government is expected to urge parliament to acknowledge the need to sign the agreement.

Seoul will then inform Japan that it will sign the pact based on the terms it drafted in 2012, the sources said.

Seoul says the conclusion of the GSOMIA will enable the two countries to collaborate efficiently over the detection of North Korean submarines and missile defense.

Japan has consistently called on South Korea to sign the GSOMIA during meetings between officials from the two countries.

With intelligence provided by the South Korean side, the pact is expected to help Japan’s Self-Defense Forces in rear support activities for U.S. forces and in search operations in the event of a contingency on the Korean Peninsula.